Monday, March 17, 2014

Social Interaction - Gimme Five!

On my list of many social interaction issues, physical contact is definitely in the top three. It would be right up there with talking to people and any form of interaction with random strangers or people I haven’t seen in a long time.

I’m not a hugger. I’ve said that many times. My wife gets away with hugging me, mostly because she lets me have sex with her (it seems like a fair trade). The same goes for kissing. Again, Mrs. C gets a pass (also because of the sex) but anyone else, not so much. I have aunts who always like to greet with a big hug and a kiss on the cheek, which is why I try to avoid them whenever possible.

What’s weird is I always seem to notice when someone makes deliberate, physical contact with me. Someone putting his/her hand on my shoulder, for example, immediately sets off all kinds of alarms in my head and I spend the rest of the interaction trying not to tense-up and acting like I don’t even notice. You know? Like any normal person is supposed to do.

However, much to my dismay, people are always trying to touch me. I think my overall unease with physical contact is belied by my seemingly approachable demeanor. (DAMN MY FRIENDLY FACE!!!) Just a few days ago, I was showing some students in one of my classes the video quality on my phone when the woman to my right put her arm around my back, while the one on the other side pressed her boobs into my shoulder so she could get in closer to see the screen. During all this, I was doing my best not to tense up.

It wasn’t pretty.

This is just one more reason I love Japan so much. In one of my classes I learned that a lot, like, A LOT of cultures employ handshakes and even kisses – to various degrees – as their greeting of choice. Not Japan, though. You stay at a safe distance from the person you’re meeting and bow. There’s no touching and personal boundaries are respected.
It’s perfect!

Hugging and kissing people is bad enough but what I find I have a lot of issues with is the whole act of “giving” someone “five”.

I know. I know.  It’s just a quick slap of someone else’s palm that lasts less than a second and, as such, should be the least invasive form of physical contact. Right? Well, have you ever thought of the mechanics involved with giving five to someone? I have. I overthink the process every time I placed in a position where a “five” must be bestowed.

Every. single. time.

When someone extends his/her palm towards me I immediately begin to second guess my actions My thoughts in the split-second before I act flow something like this:

Dammit! He just reached out his hand. Is he looking for a handshake? What were we just talking about? I made a joke and he thought it was funny and apparently well suited to the situation. A handshake is probably too formal for this scenario.

So it’s a five then?

Simple enough. Just a quick slap of his palm and that should seal the deal. A quick slap contact shouldn't be more than a second or else things could get weird.

How hard should slap his hand?

Hmm... I remember reading that guys often use these forms of social interaction amongst each other as an opportunity to display his physical strength. One good, hard slap should do.

But what if I hit his hand too hard? What if I focus too much on power and lose accuracy in the process? It would probably be awkward if I miss his hand altogether and swat at thin air.

Should I look at his hand when I give him the five? That will help with my aim. Do people look at each other’s hands when doing this?!

Okay, I won’t look at his hand. I’ll give a moderate slap so I can make sure my aim is good.

It can’t be too soft, though. That would be weird. Plus, he might form doubts about my masculinity.

I need to angle my wrist properly too. Otherwise, I’ll just end up hitting his hand wrong and not making the proper “slapping” sensation. I’m sure I’ll lose points if I connect with the heel of my palm or, even worse, karate-chop his hand.

Okay, this is taking long. I'll just do it and get it over with…

DAMMIT, I missed!

See? It’s not as easy as you may think. This is why I prefer a fistbump (of a “bounce”, as we call them here). Those are easy. You see someone extend a fist, all you have to do is touch that fist with your fist. The. end. About the only time things go off track is when the other person decides to add that sudden wide-spread palm while making an explosion sound-effect right after the bump.

I don’t like those people.

Fortunately, most tend to stay away from that maneuver.

Aside from that, all you have to worry about with a bounce is getting the aim right which, I must admit, I don’t always nail with 100% accuracy.

I don’t want to talk about it.

20 comments:

  1. LMAO!!!!

    I myself have always been a hugger. But I find myself feeling really awkward if I go in for a kiss and catch the other person off guard and they have one arm extended and then I feel compelled to awkwardly linger like I'm in an invisible half-embrace thing. Why are we so weird!? Let's try do bring the Japanese method here.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think it's the ones who put us in these awkward situations who are the weird ones. And, yes, I agree we need to adopt the superior Japanese way of doing things.

      Delete
  2. Amen, Mr. C! I was so happy to learn of the invention of the fistbump/bounce. I'm okay with fives if one of the two participants is clearly going to remain still and simply RECEIVE the five, but when both parties are fiving simultaneously, disaster always ensues.

    And don't even get me started on the high-five - fistbump mismatch. Ugh!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I saw that happen just the other day. After she accidentally high-fived the guy's fist, she tried to play it off as "her thing' that she "always does".

      It was hard to watch.

      Delete
  3. I hate it when someone I don't know well violates me with a high-five. Once it's presented to you have to do it. You have no choice in the matter at that point. I hate it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have to ask who was it that made up that whole "you can't leave me hanging" rule. Curse them for making us feel guilty about not wanting to participate!

      Delete
  4. My 5 year old is high functioning autistic. He is still learning social interaction. Unless someone reminds him, he often forgets there are other people on this planet. Why can't I walk in the middle of the sidewalk? What do you mean someone is already walking there? You and Daddy don't want to wake up at 3:30 a.m. and play with me?

    He always needs a prompt to greet someone and shake hands or give five if they have their hand out. Forget making eye contact. But, his new aide taught him the fist bump with the explosion and he does it every single time without being told. It's "magic".

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Again proving the fistbump is far superior to the five. Even the "explosive" ones.

      Delete
  5. I'm rarely willing to hug or kiss family, so it's tough when my female staff all want to hug me before they go home for the winter. I tolerate it though, because I genuinely like all of them. What really gets me grossed out though is when sales reps want to shake my hand. Why do all salesmen have to have such "moist" handshakes? It's just icky.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Eww! Handshakes! I was forced to do that with everyone I met when I was in banking. It's safe to say Purell made a tidy sum off of me back in those days.

      Delete
  6. Love the fistbump. I always hate shaking hands with people since I know that a lot of people don't wash their hands. As for touching, I don't mind an occasional touch on the shoulder or something depending on the situation. However, I don't care to be all touchy-feeling unless it's my lady.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm the same, except Mrs. C can sometimes get a little tired of how touchy-feely I can get.

      Delete
  7. High-fives are awful, the refuge of the insecure. This is why you need to embrace the embrace. Get to hugging, Vinny. Hugs are great. Stop resisting. Think about it, when you give the hug, you get the hug and you feel better, every time. There's no way to come away from a hug and feel worse. You might end up baseline, but that's with a bad hugger. Most people are into the hug and throw their all into it. Give the hug. Get the hug. It'll feel great.

    ReplyDelete
  8. *fist-bump* (Pickleope is right but no pressure.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. But... But... What about the touching?

      Delete
  9. This might be my abundant whiteness talking but I too love the fistbump, which in my house we say "Gimme knucks" for knuckles. I mostly like the ANNOUNCING of it, so the other person KNOWS with no uncertainty that this is what is comin at ya, bro. Minimum stress and germ swappage. In and out. Boom. C ya.
    Man, first the samari, then sushi, that elaborate ritualistic suicide card in Cards Against Humanity, and now this bowing, I'm crushing hard on Japan.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's the most awesome country ever! Even with the whole seppuku (ritualistic suicide) thing.

      Delete
  10. You would like hugging me. I am very non threatening and kinda squooshy. As for high 5's, I can avoid them being a girl

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You know? Thinking of the other person as "squooshy" actually does make the hug seem more inviting.

      Delete

Go ahead, say it! You know you want to: